PORTALES — After leading Southwestern Oklahoma State University by double-digit margins throughout the first half the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds fell asleep early in the second half and dropped its first Lone Star Conference crossover tilt 77-75 on Thursday night at Greyhound Arena.
The Greyhounds (3-3) woke from their slumber late in the game and after trailing by 11 points at the 10-minute mark cut the Bulldog lead to 76-75 with eight seconds to play after junior forward Max Carrier sank a pair of clutch free throws.
The Hounds fouled senior Ross Moore on the in-bounds play and the Bartlesville, Okla. native managed to sink the front end but missed the second to give ENMU one last chance. Freshman Michael Maya got a potential buzzer-beater off in time but it struck the front of the iron and ended the Hounds home winning streak at two games.
“We had a stretch there where we just didn’t play very good,” second-year ENMU coach Andrew Helton said. “We turned the basketball over — 22 turnovers that was definitely a key to the game. Anything under 15 (turnovers) and we’re all right.”
While Southwestern (6-2) never led until the 12:21 mark of the second half, turnovers were key in allowing them to grab a lead and build it to a 10-point margin in just over two minutes.
Helton said he felt good about the offense from Carrier, Aaron Edwards and Tyler Jefferson generated inside against a bigger team of mostly seniors. Carrier ended up with a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds while Edwards added 10 points and Jefferson nine.
Junior guard Stefan Mirabal added 19 points for ENMU, including three treys.
The Bulldogs were led by junior Leon Nelson with 22 points and seniors Charleston Flemmings and Greg Richardson with 11 apiece.
ENMU freshman point guard Jordan Romero spent the second half in foul trouble before fouling out with 1:39 left. Jefferson also saw his minutes cut by fouls.
Helton said while turnovers put them in the hole fouls didn’t help things down the stretch.
“At the end we had some guys in there we thought could do the job but we didn’t get it done,” Helton said. “Honestly I thought they (Bulldogs) played like seniors.”
The Hounds continue their homestand Saturday with a 4 p.m. crossover against Cameron.